The racing year is underway, with the first two national XCO rounds done, and the next two on the horizon. But it is the Otway Odyssey which kicks off the marathon racing season. One of the hardest, yet most scenic, marathon MTB races on the calendar, the Otway Odyssey always draws a crowd. And as usual, it has drawn an exceptional elite rider line up to the start list already. The Otway Odyssey ticks pretty much every box for what we think makes up a great marathon – so have you thought about entering?
Defending champion and 3 time winner of the 100k distance, Peta Mullens, will be back. And this is no surprise. Even on October at the Cape to Cape event, Mullens said there was no way she would miss the Odyssey. While she has signed to a road team for 2017, Mullens is still making sure she has the opportunities to race on dirt. Mullens will also be looking to back up on Sunday at the Great Otway Gravel Grind in the 97km distance.
There is an extra incentive for riders looking to claim ‘the double’ – head to the Rapid Ascent website and you can see the prize break down for the races. Of note, it is equal for men and women.
It is quite stunning that Jess Douglas will be lining up for her 11th Odyssey. Jess is infamous for riding above and beyond – that’s the only way you win the 24hr Solo World Championship race. 3 times. As a previous local, Jess knows the trails and knows how to get the most out of herself in hard bike races.
The new wave of riders
It is hard to think of Tasman Nankervis as a new rider, but over the past 18 months he has made his presence felt outside of XCO racing, with top results at the Odyssey in 2016, plus Bendigo, XCM National Championships – plus of course a big win at the 2016 Cape to Cape. Nankervis could well ride away with the title – and the GOGG as well, capping a great weekend of racing.
The Otway may well be a big marathon win for Nankervis, ahead of a hectic year in a run up to the Commonwealth Games. Except of course, the men’s field is also stacked.
The start lists also holds Chris Jongewaard and Adrian Jackson, who share plenty of Odyssey wins, and Tobias Lestrell who could certainly take the win on the day.
But the women’s field is also deep, as Renata Bucher will be racing again, plus previous winner Rebecca Locke, who will be home from a European cyclocross racing extravaganza. Tory Thomas has popped up again, and only does when she is fit.
Make it a weekend with the Great Otway Gravel Grind
The Otway has always been a premier mountain bike race – and the addition of the Great Otway Gravel Grind should make it a fun weekend. Less rushing home post race on Saturday, instead there might be more people heading to the beach at Apollo Bay for some cold water recovery, to ensure their legs are fresh for the gravel event on Sunday.
Race one, race both, ride one and race the other – it’s up to you. But make sure you think about getting down to Forrest on 25-26 February for what should be one of the best event weekends of 2017.
Need more details? Head to the Rapid Ascent website.